By Paul Muldoon
he’s not been sighted all winter;
this old brock’s
been to Normandy and back
through the tunnels and trenches
of his subconscious.
His father fell victim
to mustard-gas at the Somme;
one of his sons lost a paw
to a gin-trap at Lisbellaw:
on the Antrim hills’
in a moth-eaten Balaclava.
system of foxholes and duckboards
leads to the terminal moraine
of an ex-linen baron’s
where he’s part-time groundsman.
I would find it somewhat infra dig
to dismiss him simply as a pig
or heed Gerald of Wales’
of badgers keeping badger-slaves.
For when he shuffles
across the esker
I glimpse my grandfather’s whiskers
stained with tobacco-pollen.
When he piddles against a bullaun
I know he carries bovine TB
but what I see
is my father in his Sunday suit’s
bespoke lime and lignite,
patrolling his now-diminished estate
and taking stock of this and that.
Paul Muldoon, “Brock” from Poems 1968-1998. Copyright © 2001 by Paul Muldoon. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.
Source: Poems 1968-1998 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)